Jadon Wagner Returned With Honor

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Jadon Wagner played his best game of the season against the New Mexico State Aggies. Wagner was honored following the game as one of 19 seniors playing their final home game. Six months ago, Wagner wasn’t expected to be part of this game.

In May 2011, Wagner surprised Cougar Nation by making himself available for the Canadian Football League (CFL) draft. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats subsequently drafted him in the sixth round of the CFL draft. After taking some time to analyze the situation, the move by Wagner was understandable for several reasons.

At the time, it didn’t look like BYU would miss Wagner very much. Jordan Pendleton would be healthy again. Kyle Van Noy had a year of experience to go with his great talent. Jameson Frazier was a Lott Trophy candidate.

Sometime during the summer, Wagner had a change of heart and rejoined the team. (NCAA rules don’t prevent players who enter the CFL draft from returning for their senior season like they do for players who enter the NFL draft early.)

For the first six games of the season, Wagner was a consistent contributor on defense. He made four tackles in every game but one. That one game he didn’t have four tackles was the UCF game. He saw extra playing time with Pendleton out with an ankle injury. Wagner upped his total tackles to six.

Pendleton returned to the lineup a few weeks later, and Wagner saw his numbers drop as his playing time decreased. Unfortunately, Pendleton suffered another injury after game nine. That set the stage for Wagner to have a memorable Senior Day.

On the game’s opening series, Wagner blitzed the New Mexico State quarterback and delivered a jarring hit that sent the football rocketing out of the quarterback’s hand. BYU recovered the ball and successfully averted a scoring threat. Later in the game, Wagner was on the opposite end of the fumble exchange. In the third quarter, he recovered a fumble that gave BYU the ball at the New Mexico State 40-yard line. Three plays later BYU scored to give the Cougars a commanding 35-7 lead.

With four tackles, one sack, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery, Wagner was the defensive player of the game for BYU.

Wagner returned to play his senior season, but he didn’t become an NFL prospect. He returned, but he didn’t become a fan favorite. He returned to play one more year, but it wasn’t an undefeated team that played in a BCS bowl. In short, it wasn’t a triumphant return.

Nevertheless, Wagner returned and provided good, solid, consistent play. He returned and made valuable contributions that influenced the outcome of several games. For that, Wagner has returned with honor.

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